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Dormer Mountain

On March 23, Phil Richards and I hiked up a snowy Sheep Creek and scrambled Winchester Ridge. From the ridge we enjoyed spectacular views over the Dormer River towards Dormer Mountain and started to plan what kind of adventure would get us to its summit.

Observation Sub Peaks

I’ve heard of the Observation Sub Peaks for many years as a pretty tame but highly recommended ski objective along the Icefields Parkway near Bow Summit and Bow Lake in Banff National Park.

Climbing Junction Mountain.

Junction Mountain (Pyriform Traverse)

After the easy (hot and lengthy) scramble to the summit of Pyriform Mountain and its fly-covered summit cairn, Wietse and I turned our collective attention to the alluring ridge joining it to Junction Mountain. The first part of the traverse was, as expected, fast and pleasurable. This was a good thing, because we were running low on water and were feeling the effects of an incredibly hot and windless summer day up high.

Ascending Pyriform Mountain.

Pyriform Mountain

Wietse and I found ourselves with a day off mid-week on August 22, 2018 and decided we should probably take advantage of the perfect weather forecast by standing on a summit somewhere. The real question was which summit should get the nod? The issue wasn’t conditions – everything was pretty much in great condition – the issue was the levels of smoke we’d encounter and the corresponding lack of views or breathing issues we’d have to deal with. After going around in circles several times, we finally settled on an ascent of Pyriform Mountain in the Highwood Range of the Rockies in front range Kananaskis Country.

Brussilof, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 3005Trip Date: Friday, July 20, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 2000Round Trip Time (hr): 15Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: A difficult approach through medium BC bush followed by snow climbing, 4th class loose rock and routefinding up ledges and cliffs to the summit.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words Somehow, despite planning a trip into the Lyell Icefield to climb the last of the Lyells (IV) that I have […]

Another small drop before the final slopes to the summit with Peyto Lake showing up at right.

Silverhorn Mountain

Long before Andrew Nugara made Silverhorn Mountain much more popular than previously with his new guidebook, I’d been interested in it after reading Rick Colliers report years beforehand. Funnily enough, before I asked Brandon Boulier about his recent ascent and for a possible GPX track, I didn’t even realize this peak was in Nugara’s guidebook, but it certainly explained its recent popularity for me! Friday the 13th would be a solo outing for me and I was really looking forward to it. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a whole mountain all to yourself.

Field, Mount

Finally on March 10 of 2018 I managed to ski a peak that’s been on my hit-list for many years. 13 years ago, I’d scrambled Mount Field in Yoho National Park from a weird approach (the Stanley Mitchell Hut) with the infamous Dave Stephens. Since then a lot of my mountain friends had skied the peak from the opposite side and highly recommended it to me. Of course, because I’m a peakbagger I don’t normally like to repeat summits, but if the mode and route of the peak being bagged is completely different, it can be worth a second trip. In this case it was certainly worth it.

Lougheed I, Mount

On Sunday, September 10th I joined Cornelius Rott for a jaunt up a Kananaskis peak that’s been on my to-do list for many years now – Mount Lougheed I. 2017 has been all about getting out and trying Rockies adventures that have been on my mind for years and never got around to for some or another reason. Originally Phil was going to join us for another (longer) objective, but plans changed so I asked Cornelius if he was interested in Lougheed. As we’d never done a trip together before, you might be surprised that we choose a difficult Nugara scramble for our first outing. I wasn’t worried because in looking at his web site you realize pretty quickly

King Edward, Mount

Despite the odds that seemed to be stacked against us, and lingering doubts, Ben and I finally completed our Sisyphean Odyssey to the summit of Mount King Edward on a beautifully clear and pleasant summer day on August 28, 2017. After three attempts, driving a total of approximately 36 hours, hiking 105km and climbing over 6,500m of elevation in pursuit of this peak, it was supremely rewarding to finally stand on the top. Ferenc Jasco joined us in our quest and was a valuable contributor to our eventual success. As any follower of this blog will know by now, Mount King Edward has been a thorn in my side for a few years now.

Cataract Peak

I capped an awesome 9 days off in July 2017, with a long-sought adventure up the distant, obscure and somewhat neglected Cataract Peak, just across the Pipestone River Valley in Banff National Park. This mountain has been on my radar for many years now – mostly because it’s high (almost 11,000 feet) without being so high that it gets more attention (i.e. 11,000 feet). When Ben and Steven did it back in September of 2014 I was fairly bummed that I didn’t get to join them.

Lake of the Horns (LOTH)

After a few intense days of backpacking and scrambling five summits, Kaycie and I were ready for a relaxing day by a gorgeous and remote backcountry lake. So that’s exactly what we did. When doing research for our trip, I’d relied heavily on Matt Clay’s August, 2015 trip where he and Sandra backpacked into Weary Creek Gap before traversing up and over Mount Muir before being turned back at the Carnarvon Lake chains. I had changed things up, based on his experience, choosing to ascend, rather than descend the chains. Since our original plans called for a much longer trip, I was keen to extend ours by at least a day and came up with an intriguing option to spend a day and night camping at Lake of the Horns (LOTH) from our Weary Creek headwall bivy.

Watermelon Peak

On Wed or Thu the usual flurry of emails went out regarding plans for the weekend. When the dust settled, Phil Richards and I were left choosing between two lengthy day trips. In the end, Watermelon Peak won out. Most people do Watermelon as part of an overnight bivy at Lake Alice, and while this is a wonderful way to experience this peak and this lovely area, we simply didn’t have the schedule to allow it this time. It was while we were poking around at the route and planning the trip that Phil wryly texted me – “you realize that Bobac is also in the area”.

Bobac Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 3088Elevation Gain (m): 1650Round Trip Time (hr): 14.5Total Trip Distance (km): 28Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break your leg or possibly dieDifficulty Notes: The south ridge route that we took involves difficult, loose scrambling with exposure. There are easier routes but they are longer and cannot be done safely with the amount of snow they had when we were there.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After spending an amazing morning approaching and ascending Watermelon […]

Pharaoh Peak, Greater

As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I’d experienced on this long and tiring day – and many long and tiring days before it – was not there for my benefit. It was simply there. Natural beauty is something that drives many of us out of the concrete jungles where we make a living, out to a more peaceful and reflective existence on the trail – where we are smaller somehow, and more connected with our ancient, wandering roots. While we feel almost a spiritual connection to the land, we often make the mistake of thinking that all the natural beauty that we find beyond our temporary fake and material world, is somehow there for us. Because of us – like it owes us it’s very existence. But this is not true my friends.

Molar Mountain

There are some mountains that really stir my gut when I think about doing them. For some reason Molar Mountain has been one such peak ever since I first saw a trip report and the corresponding stunning photographs from Andrew Nugara back in 2007. Nugara’s online trip report is no longer available (he has added it to a recent guidebook – something I didn’t find out until after our trip) but Josee and Fabrice repeated his route in 2014 and posted it on their website which increased my interest in the lovely Hector Pass / Molar Creek area and in the mountain itself.

Breaker Mountain (Capricorn Lake)

After first becoming interested in Breaker Mountain in 2013 while perusing Google Earth for ideas, Phil took Rick’s trip report on Bivouac (a 1987 spring ski ascent) and successfully completed an ambitious solo trip up Capricorn Creek to Capricorn Lake in October 2014 to scout the route to the Parapet / Breaker col. Thanks to intermittent snow flurries at Capricorn Lake and an impending snow event he never made it as far as the col. Ever since then, Phil has been trying to find a partner to suffer the approach with him and try to find a scramble route up Breaker. Finally, for reasons still unknown to me, I agreed to his suggestion and we each booked off work for Friday August 5th to make the attempt during a good weather window – a rare thing in summer 2016.

Woodland Caribou – 2016 Canoe Trip – Onnie Lake

The sun was hot and the sky was “summer blue” as we drove the dusty, bumpy, rocky road that starts out as an easy 80 km/h drive and gradually slows to a 20 km/h crawl or even less on rougher sections past the first 18km off highway 518. We were in excellent moods as I parked the truck on the sandy parking area off the road at the Onnie Lake entry point. We were a bit surprised to see three vehicles parked there already, but on inspection we noticed they were all from Wisconsin and one of them was pulling a large canoe trailer so they were obviously all part of one large group. With feelings of anticipation and trepidation about how my injured foot would handle things, we prepared for the first portage of the trip – 350m right from the parking lot.

Forbes, Mount

I’ve been dreaming of climbing the highest peak in Banff National Park and 8th highest in the Canadian Rockies for many years. I’m not 100 percent sure when I first laid eyes on the hauntingly beautiful northwest face and dramatic summit pyramid of Mount Forbes but I do know that it probably terrified me the first few times I looked at it. That giant triangular face of snow, rock and ice stretching upward into the clouds continued to draw me in as I gazed at it from many surrounding summits, year after year. In 2015 I was sure I was going to climb Forbes with Ben and Steven, but alas they chose a weekend that didn’t work and I was once again left to wonder at a missed opportunity.

Poboktan Mountain

The weather in mid October 2015 was sublime. So sublime, in fact, that with the weekend fast approaching, I found myself invited on a number of trips that would normally be done in the summer – certainly not in the last half of October! Phil and I have been on a bit of a roll the past month, so it seemed appropriate to continue on it that vibe. Poboktan Mountain first came onto my radar while climbing Mount Brazeau with Ben this past August. As the sun was setting on us near the summit of the 11,000er, we got a great glimpse of Poboktan’s twin summits and they looked wonderful. I wondered aloud if Poboktan was a scramble or a climb, but neither Ben nor I knew anything about it at the time. Since then, I’ve also had a great view of the other side of Poboktan from Mount Stewart and Mount Willis.

A wild scene involving Mount Douglas and its larch covered lower northern slopes.

Drummond, Mount & Packers Pass Peak

By the end of September 2015 I was getting a wee bit desperate to finally see some fully turned larches. Despite getting out a lot in the middle of the month, especially to Waterton Lakes National Park, I’d yet to run into the full fall golden goodness of larch heaven that I’ve come to crave at the end of each scrambling / hiking season in the Alberta Rockies. As usual for the 2015 season, the weather did not cooperate when I needed it to! The forecast for the weekend of September 25-27 was looking a bit thin. Sunday was the best looking day by far, but as the dates crept closer the forecast grew dimmer until even Sunday was looking like a good shot at cold, cloud and possibly rain or even snow.

Stewart, Mount

After a spectacular day approaching and ascending Mount Willis we awoke with sunrise to a beautifully clear day on Saturday, September 12 2015, quite eager to ascend the lofty Mount Stewart that we’d been staring at for a good portion of the previous day already. We were pretty sure that Stewart was an easy scramble from photos we’d taken from Cirrus’ summit to the west. The issue with Stewart isn’t the technical difficulties of the climbing; it’s the remoteness of the peak and the access to the easy southwest slopes.

Willis, Mount (Cataract Pass)

There are a few notable things about the White Goat Wilderness Area as compared to a national or provincial park. In a way, it’s even more restrictive. There are no horses, no motorized vehicles and no air traffic allowed. No fires, hunting or even fishing either. But random camping and backpacking is highly encouraged – provided it’s done responsibly of course. I’d certainly seen mountains in the White Goat before, notably the three summits just north of Mount Cline and the massive summit of Mount Stewart, which I’d last seen from Corona Ridge. (Stewart was actually another choice for the weekend Steve and I did Corona Ridge and Marmota Peak…)

Sir Douglas, Mount

Raf told me I should climb Mount Sir Douglas this year (2015) since it was my 40th birthday and Sir Douglas is the 40th 11,000er in Corbett’s book. Who am I to argue with the crazy Pol? I tentatively made plans to attempt this peak at some point this year, and that point came to fruition with the usual crazy planning that Ben, Steven and I usually end up doing. Our plans changed at least 3 times over 2 days, including a phone call and last minute weather checks from Red Deer as they drove out to my house!

Arctomys Peak

Once we descended from Christian Peak and looped back to our traverse tracks from the day before, we decided to give Arctomys Peak a try. I think we all underestimated the amount of effort required to get all the way over to the eastern edge of the Lyell Icefield from the south ridge of Christian Peak, never mind the effort to then descend 400 vertical meters, cross another small icefield and then re-ascend to the summit of Arctomys. Now reverse it all the way back to the Lyell Hut!! Sometimes we are just suckers for punishment.

Ernest Peak (Lyell III)

After a gorgeous 8 hour approach via Icefall Brook / Canyon, we found ourselves at the small, tidy Lyell Hut around noon with many hours of beautiful sunny weather staring back at us. I think it was Ben who initially started musing that perhaps we should “go for Lyell 1, 2 and 3 (Rudolph, Edward and Ernest) today yet”. Wait, what?! When I first overheard his murmured suggestion I thought I must be dreaming. I’d never heard of anyone doing the entire Lyell Hut approach on foot and then 3 of the 5 Lyells on the same day. As we thought about it though, it started to make a bit of sense. The snow was still holding up quite well and this was the coolest day in the forecast. Why not take advantage and go for a few summits already? Why not indeed.